Heavy rains and widespread flooding killed nearly 200 people in western Japan; meanwhile, an unprecedented heat wave in eastern Canada killed around 70 people last week.
Against this background, climate researchers are warning that casualties related to extreme weather events could increase if greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked.
Extreme weather-related events are increasing worldwide, reminds Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
“Our Earth is once again being hit by extreme weather, including extreme heat and wildfires in California, and devastating floods of rain in Japan. Based on the laws of physics, due to global warming, we must expect more frequent and worsening events,” he wrote in a statement.
Extreme weather events such as severe storms, unexpected and unpredictable floods, heat waves and unseasonable cold snaps have killed hundreds of thousands of people and injured billions more over the past 20 years, according to a joint 2015 World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations weather disaster report.< /p>’
Scientists indicate that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of such extreme weather events, making it difficult for governments to prepare and respond to disasters. This is costing governments around the world billions, while taking an incalculable toll on human life.
As disturbing as those numbers are, authors of 2017 study in The Lancet Planetary Health found that Europeans could die at a yet more alarming rate by the turn of the century.
According to the report, around 152,000 people in Europe could die per year directly from extreme weather hazards between 2071 and 2100 — that’s 50 times more than what was recorded between 1981 and 2010.
These estimates are really alarming, our scenario is not the worst we could choose — it is the medium scenario of greenhouse gas emissions. The projected changes are brought about by global warming and the increasing amount of weather-related risks such as cold fronts and heat waves.>
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